Poll: Only 50 Percent of Voters Back Obama's Handling of Libya

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 21 2011 1:41 PM

Poll: Only 50 Percent of Voters Back Obama's Handling of Libya

CNN's poll on the No Fly Zone puts support for the strategy at 70 percent. That's not surprising. Seventy-seven percent of Americans think it's important that Gaddafi be removed from power. But look at the answer to this question:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the situation in Libya?

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Only 50 percent of voters do; 41 percent don't. That's largely because of a huge partisan divide on the question. Sixty-three percent of Republicans disapprove of Obama's handling of Libya, to 27 percent who approve. Seventy-six percent of Tea Party "supporters" disapprove of Obama's handling of it. But 73 percent of Tea Partiers and 78 percent of Republicans support the NFZ -- they're by far the biggest supporters of the strategy.

Some advocates of the NFZ, like John McCain, have fretted that it should have been launched earlier, and delay has been problematic. I'm sure some of the low GOP support number can be pinned on that. I'd bet the rest of it is a result of the occasionally-coherent criticism of GOP leaders , who have called Obama out for "dithering" even as he moved toward the response they wanted.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.